Page last updated at 12:14 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Boat murder wife's survival bid

Linda Robertson said her husband was a wonderful man

The wife of a British man murdered by pirates near the coast of Thailand has spoken of her fight for survival during their ordeal.

It is thought Malcolm Robertson, 64, was beaten and had his throat cut by men who boarded his boat, before his body was thrown into the Andaman Sea.

His wife Linda, 57, was stripped, tied up, and dumped below deck.

Recalling the ordeal, she said the last thing she heard her husband say was: "Get off my boat, get off my boat."

Mrs Robertson told the BBC's Alastair Leithead she believed her husband's decision to stand up to the men may have cost him his life.

She described how after the attack on Monday, the three young Burmese men struggled to start the boat's engine.

When they brought her up to help them she saw blood all over the deck.

Alastair Leithead
Alastair Leithead, BBC Radio 4

Linda Robertson had her family surrounding her as she sat and calmly described what happened the night three men boarded the yacht where she and her husband were sleeping.

She heard Malcolm challenge the men, "get off my boat, get off my boat" - the last thing she heard him say.

She was stripped, tied up and dumped below deck while the three young Burmese men tried to start the engine.

When they brought her up to help them she saw blood all over the deck. "I know Malcolm was dead at that point," she said, "but I thought whatever it takes to survive I've got to survive."

For hours she was trapped onboard as the men ate through their food supplies. "They were laughing and joking", she said, "knowing they had just killed my husband."

"I knew Malcolm was dead at that point, but I thought whatever it takes to survive, I've got to try and survive."

It is believed the 64-year-old was beaten with a hammer and his body was thrown into the Andaman Sea, 45 miles west of Satun.

Mrs Robertson suffered minor injuries and was later rescued by a passing fishing boat.

The couple, from Hastings in East Sussex, had been sailing near Koh Dong island, when their 44ft yacht was attacked.

"He was not the sort of man that would just sit back and let things happen. I wish really that he had been.

"Who knows he could be here now.

"I think the fact that he tried to get them off the boat was the mistake," Mrs Robertson said.

She told the BBC how she was trapped on board for about 10 hours while the men ate through their food supplies.

"It was such a banal situation because it was like the three boys having a picnic - they were eating food, laughing and joking.

"The young boy was playing on my mobile phone, he was playing all the tunes on the mobile phone.

Malcolm and Linda Robertson
Linda and Malcolm Robertson were sailing near the island of Koh Dong

"It seemed so surreal, you know, knowing that they had just killed my husband it just switched off in their minds."

She said they "certainly weren't professional".

"I mean a professional taking the murder weapon away with them? And being picked up with it.

"No, they weren't professional and thank God they weren't because I'm here to tell the story and be with my family."

She described how her husband was "a wonderful caring man" and how sailing was his passion and his life, next to his family.

'Loving heart'

"He wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination but we all loved him... he would do anything for anybody.

"He was a warm, kind person with a loving heart and a bit of a temper."

The couple had been sailing 45 miles west of Satun

Mr Robertson, she said, retired at the age of 50 with the aim of sailing around the world.

"We loved Thailand so much that we've been here for four years."

Thai Police have arrested three Burmese men in connection with the incident.

The migrant workers, who are said to have confessed to killing Mr Robertson, have been remanded in custody.

Mr Robertson was the owner of a chain of coffee shops around Hastings.

The couple, who had been married for 25 years, had two children each from previous relationships and seven grandchildren between them.

All four children have now arrived in Thailand to support Mrs Robertson.



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